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On the Streets: Aim for Peace, Prepare for War

On the Streets: Aim for Peace, Prepare for War

By Dr. George J. Thompson

Dr. George J. Thompson is the President and Founder of the Verbal Judo Institute, a tactical training and management firm now based in Auburn, NY. For full details on Dr. Thompson’s work and training, please visit the Verbal Judo Web Site.

The most important thing we don’t teach, but should, is a coherent philosophy that can unite the need for physical force and the need to project and infuse those we contact with peace.

The “Peace Warrior” title I’ve used in training sounds like a contradiction, a paradox, and it is. The renowned former California Highway Patrol officer turned risk expert, consultant and lawyer, Gordon Graham, once narrated the story of his police mentor defining the “peace officer” as akin to the American eagle in the national seal on the back of the one dollar bill. The eagle holds olive branches in one talon and arrows in the other. Accordingly, advised the mentor, “Always extend the olive branches of peace to all, but hold the arrows of war ready. Always treat people with respect, but have a plan to kill them.”

We already do a good job of training our officers to use the “arrows of war.” War stories have a significant place in readying the mind of the officer for “when/then” thinking. I’m all for illustrative war stories, and as one who has wrestled with scum on the streets, I know that these stories inform our response to violence. But we often neglect to teach a balance — we do not teach officers tactics to “extend the olive branch” to those with whom we interact.

“Peace stories”, which is a term I use, should be equally stressed and taught to ready the mind of the officer to respond peaceably when possible. Remember: 98% – 99% of an officer’s interactions with others do not end in violence because we use our skills to defuse them.

People should be treated with respect and restraint until they prove they are “wolves,” as Lt. Col David Grossman, U.S. Army (Ret.), author of On Killing, so well puts it in his article On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs:

“The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed.”

I believe we should teach officers how to increase their “Peace Power” without jeopardizing their safety. They should be taught tactical ways of “extending the olive branch of peace” to those we encounter who might initially want war.

Next Page: Learning from the Greeks >>>


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  • F2_1__max50

    ddoggreen

    over 3 years ago

    20 Comments

    outstanding article, this describes a shift in mindset which should not be hard for us as individuals to follow, precisely where have I heard the "philosophy" word applied before? Oh that's right community policing, exemplified by the words protect and serve, keep the faith.

  • Me_last_wk_max50

    delano388

    over 3 years ago

    4314 Comments

    Great Article

  • 220px-1973_colt_ar15_sp1_max50

    Sarge2006

    almost 4 years ago

    18 Comments

    Good reading, over the heads of most Im afraid.

  • 2011_range_day_2-19-10_max50

    USLawman1983

    about 4 years ago

    1572 Comments

    Grossman is a modern day Sun Tzu.

  • Parkview_01_003_max600_max50

    AFlemingJr

    about 4 years ago

    48 Comments

    Great piece.

  • Img_0083_max50

    Sheepdog_1

    about 4 years ago

    56 Comments

    Really enjoyed the article and will make mention of it at the department. We have had a priority on Ethics training for the past couple years. I have read Lt. Col. Grossman's books 'On Killing', and 'On Combat', and HIGHLY recommend them to any in LE or Military. I am both. Hmmm... Peace Warrior... Sheepdog... Same thing...

  • Mememe_max50

    maxcanady

    over 4 years ago

    12 Comments

    Good to know this. Thanks

  • Gold_instructor_or_founder_member_pin_max50

    Shadow_25

    over 4 years ago

    220 Comments

    100% Truth.............

  • Sg_max50

    elaken

    over 4 years ago

    424 Comments

    Good article. Something to look into further.

  • Kate_n_i_max50

    michelleg

    over 4 years ago

    572 Comments

    ive heard this really works..

  • Img00009_max50

    chpprsinc

    over 4 years ago

    398 Comments

    Good to know, great article

  • Img_0490_max50

    matsnap

    over 4 years ago

    482 Comments

    I liked the book and found it useful. I would like to take the training course.

  • Flights_with_jason_019_max50

    50pilot

    over 4 years ago

    44 Comments

    I refuse to say that I use "verbal Judo" (it's just to goofy sounding) but I do try to talk a little common scence to people on the street. For every *ss whooping story I got I got 5 where I could tell you about talking the the people down. COMMON SCENCE is a great TACTICAL tool that shouild be kept right out front where the officer never forgets it. Oh yea, good article

  • 0312091735_1__max50

    sdaily

    over 4 years ago

    732 Comments

    Well said!

  • Co_blue_line_max50

    JWILL85

    over 4 years ago

    100 Comments

    This is something every law enforcement agency should have for their officer go by.

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